SAFETY experts are warning families not to buy “illegal and dangerous” baby booster seat cushions online.
Families are grabbing up online bargains with the mistaken belief that they meet Australian safety standards. They do NOT!
News.com.au reports, the cushions are being advertised on websites such as eBay, with claims they meet European standards — not Australia’s strict standards.
New Australian rules introduced from 2010 have tougher requirements for side impact protection and positioning of the seat belt.
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Industry experts say the booster seat cushions offered for sale on eBay — ranging from $15 to $58 — are being imported from China and sold by independent distributors in Australia.
Local sellers of non-compliant booster seat cushions are risking fines of up to $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million for companies, says the consumer watchdog ACCC.
In some states, the police fine to drivers for putting their kids in non-compliant or incorrectly fitted child restraints is up to $325 and three demerit points.
But experts say fines are rarely issued because illegal products are hard to identify at a glance.
Booster seats are still legal in Australia, however….
It is strongly advised against using a booster cushion (with no back or side protection). They won’t provide additional cushioning in the case of a crash and have been deleted from the most recent 2010 and 2013 standards, so it’s rare to find them on sale.
However, it’s not illegal to use one that met Australian standards at the time it was manufactured.
Older booster seat cushions with an Australian Standards approval label are still allowed to be used as long as they are within 10 years of the date of manufacture, which is printed on the restraint.
The handful of local companies that previously manufactured and sold booster seat cushions that met Australian standards have not made them for five years or so, since the strict new regulations came into force.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told News Corp Australia it “regularly surveys and tests the Australian market and seeks the removal of non-compliant child restraints including booster seats”.
“Any booster seats that do not meet the requirements of the mandatory standard may pose a serious safety hazard and will not adequately protect a child passenger in the event of a motor vehicle accident,” said ACCC spokesman Duncan Harrod.
The ACCC says it is currently assessing the child booster seat cushions being advertised for sale on eBay.
“The ACCC welcomes information about the possible supply of any unsafe product, including any concerns with child restraints, at www.productsafety.gov.au ‘Report an unsafe product’.”
Before buying a child car restraint it is important to check that there’s a tag on the seat showing certification to the Australian standard.
National child restraint laws
- Children up to the age of six months must be secured in an approved rearward facing restraint
- Children aged from six months old but under four years old must be secured in either a rear or forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness
- Children under four years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows
- Children aged from four years old but under seven years old must be secured in a forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat
- Children aged from four years old but under seven years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in an approved child restraint or booster seat
- Children aged from seven years old but under 16 years old who are too small to be restrained by a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened are strongly recommended to use an approved booster seat
- Children in booster seats must be restrained by a suitable lap and sash type approved seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, or by a suitable approved child safety harness that is properly adjusted and fastened.
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